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Happy Birthday Abe Lincoln (oh and also Chas Darwin)

February 12, 2017



Yes, Abe Lincoln has a birthday today.  In a few week’s time, we’ll note the sorry anniversary of his removal from this sphere by means of a shabby piece of melodrama.

Abe’s most astonishing achievement, in many ways, was to define a version of “doable” idealism.

Like most politicians of his age,  Abe was a trimmer and a compromiser.  He was not the most anti-racist or the most anti-slavery elected politician of his age.  (That was Charles Sumner.)  The difference between Abe and the other mid-century politicos trying to thrash out a compromise was that Abe recognised that “middle ground” was a mobile concept.  Unlike Buchanan and Pierce and Douglas etc. etc.  – Abe could see that public opinion needs a gentle push – or rather a push of exactly the correct measure of force.  He never wanted to get too far ahead of “public opinion”, but (in hockey parlance)…

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